Liberals Are Losing: Quick, Change the Rules!

As John has covered closely with regard to the MoveOn and Mayday video ad competition, when liberals lose their first impulse is to change the rules, or blame the institutions of democracy. With a liberal wipeout in prospect tomorrow, naturally liberals are gearing up to argue that we should cancel mid-term elections. Who says this? A Duke professor, naturally. Where? The New York Times, naturally.

There was a time when midterm elections made sense — at our nation’s founding, the Constitution represented a new form of republican government, and it was important for at least one body of Congress to be closely accountable to the people. But especially at a time when Americans’ confidence in the ability of their government to address pressing concerns is at a record low, two-year House terms no longer make any sense. We should get rid of federal midterm elections entirely. . .

The realities of the modern election cycle are that we spend almost two years selecting a president with a well-developed agenda, but then, less than two years after the inauguration, the midterm election cripples that same president’s ability to advance that agenda.

Hmmm, that wasn’t true in 2002, was it? Republicans gained House and Senate seats that year, ending “gridlock” in the Senate, in part because voters in some key states didn’t like Democratic obstructionism of President Bush’s post-9/11 agenda. Wait for it—you’re going to hear a lot of whiney liberals on Wednesday bemoaning that the electorate has rewarded Republican obstructionism, without pausing to ponder that obstructing Obama is precisely what they have in mind. What P.J. O’Rourke said about the 2012 mid-term goes double for this one: it isn’t an election—it’s a restraining order.

If, by chance, the GOP wins a landslide in 2016 (it could happen), I expect there will be reliable liberals who suggest we get rid of elections altogether. The idea is actually implicit in several of their favorite “progressive” theories.


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